East Devon District Council has responded to a Planning Inspectorate decision to overturn its ruling for a business park in Sidford, saying it is ‘very disappointed’.
It says the decision, made following a three-day public inquiry last month, goes against the Local Plan.
The Planning Inspectorate allowed the planning appeal for an employment site at Two Bridges Road, Sidford.
However, a claim for the council to cover the applicant’s appeal costs was rejected.
Councillor Mike Howe, chairman of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee, said: “I am very disappointed that the Planning Inspector feels that it is appropriate to allow a significant element of B8 (Storage and Distribution) uses on the site leading to an increase in HGVs in the area.
“The other uses proposed for the site would not lead to HGVs using the roads and this is why the local plan allocation for the site limits the uses that can be accommodated. This decision goes against the Local Plan allocation and imposes the impact of additional HGVs on the local community when the Council was trying to avoid this.
“It is a great shame that the Inspector did not agree with our concerns. I can only hope that our worst fears are not realised and the predicted accidents do not occur.”
The decision overturns the prevision decision by East Devon District Council to reject the plan. It turned down the outline planning application under delegated powers for 8,445 sqm of new employment floor space, new highway access, cycle and footway, improvements to flood attenuation and associated works.
The inquiry heard the council is concerned about the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) accessing the site and the impact of this on highway safety in the area. Evidence was given by officers from both the district council and highway authority Devon County Council.
Despite acknowledging the problems caused by HGVs using narrow roads near to the site, described as ‘narrow, with poor visibility and lacking footpaths’, the inspector considered that there would be only a marginal increase in HGVs in the area and that this would not be unsafe.
Sidford business park and employment needs
Many of the other concerns raised by the community were also considered, including the impact on nearby listed buildings and the Sidmouth Conservation Area, flooding, air quality and noise.
The Inspector concluded that “the proposed development would help meet the significant employment needs of the area”.
The drainage and flood attenuation measures would reduce the risk of surface water flooding elsewhere.
He said: “The proposal would also contribute towards a section of the Sidmouth to Sidford Cycle route. These are significant benefits that outweigh the effects and inconvenience of the increase in HGV traffic in the area.”
As a result of this decision, outline planning permission has been granted and the principle of this development and the details of the access, landscaping and layout of the site have been agreed.
The applicants will now have to agree the details of scale and appearance through a reserved matters application to the Council before development could start on site.